Joel - Psoriatic arthritis
Joel first developed psoriatic arthritis in his twenties and now blogs in order to record his personal experiences.
My name is Joel, and I have lived with arthritis most
of my life, starting with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis shortly before my 11th
birthday. In my 20s, this developed into Psoriatic Arthritis.
In 2019 I became a parent and wanted to be a better role
model for my son, so I created my blog, joelvsarthritis.co.uk to open
up and record my personal experience of life as a parent with arthritis. Today,
I write freelance for many leading charities and organisations thanks to the
strength the arthritis community gave me to find my voice.
If today’s pain doesn’t bring you to your knees,
tomorrow’s rashes will cripple you with self-awareness. Psoriatic
arthritis is the rock and the hard place, and at times, it feels like I am struggling
underneath the weight of both.
When I was a child with arthritis, it was the standard trio
of pain, stiffness and swelling – and for a lot of years, I learned to cope
with that, to a certain extent. However, in my early twenties, when the rashes
started to appear, I struggled, and I’m not afraid to admit it.
I used to sit in Rheumatology waiting rooms as a 12-year-old
and be afraid of the patients, often decades older than me, with psoriasis or
the typical knobbly fingers of those with PsA. I remember asking my parents if
I’d ever look like that, seeking reassurance. It sounds terrible now but back
then it was completely understandable. As ‘the kid in the wheelchair’, I
was already bullied at school and hugely self-conscious. The last thing I
wanted was anything more visible. To make matters worse, these hours in waiting
rooms felt like a window into my future.
Today, almost 25 years on from that kid in the waiting room,
I can’t sit here and say I’m not self-conscious because I am. My battle with
depression aligns directly with my physical mobility and appearance. Sometimes
because of reliance on mobility aids, others, the condition of my skin. But
there’s a big difference between being aware of your image and being ashamed.
Today, when I talk openly about my life with psoriatic
arthritis, I am talking to those with no awareness of the disease; to educate,
to change attitudes. Yet, I’d be lying if I said, in part, I wasn’t also
talking to future 12-year-old me’s – to reassure them that stigma is somebody
else’s problem that needn’t be your own.
Read more real-life stories from people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.